HELENA (AP) — The board that runs the state's colleges said Thursday that it is picking one of its own to replace the retiring higher education commissioner.
The Montana Board of Regents said current chairman Clayton Christian is the right choice to succeed Sheila Stearns, who announced her retirement this year after nine years in the position.
The board said in a release that Christian, a Missoula businessman, was recruited and recommended by the board's search consultant.
The board said it decided to make a quick decision Thursday after identifying Christian as a top candidate who can carry out a stable transition, while also meeting a request from the public to hire someone familiar with the system.
"The 'Montana perspective' that Clay will carry into the job was really a guiding principle for us," vice chairman Todd Buchanan of Billings said in a release. "In the board's view, because a tremendously qualified candidate surfaced so early in the search process, there is no need to protract the process further."
Buchanan said a search consultant told the board Tuesday that Christian, who had resigned from a post on the board earlier in the day, was a highly recommended candidate for the job.
The board decided in a telephone meeting Thursday to select him for the post.
Christian has a bachelor's degree from the University of Montana and is the owner of Stewart Title of Missoula. He and his wife, Dawn, have three children, including one who attends the University of Montana and another who attends Montana State University.
He is expected to take over in March. A salary and contract have not yet been negotiated.